Today’s Soup & Stories entry is from our dear friend Kara Storey, an Iowan-in-training but a Minnesotan at heart. Kara could probably build a good case and sue us for trademark violation. You see, this whole soups for dinner throughout Lent thing is her brilliant idea. She and her husband Adam invited us over for dinner last year during Lent and served a delicious soup. They shared a bit about their tradition while we sipped and slurped, and Lisa started scheming back then. Not only have we used her idea to build this blog series, we even went and ripped off her last name for part of its title. Rub it in, right?! In fairness, “Potage & Plots” or “Bisque & Bull” just didn’t cut it.
It’s all you, Kara. Thanks for the inspiration and your friendship! Read more from Kara at I Believe in Love.
I grew up on five acres at the end of a dead-end dirt road in central Minnesota. The property borders a remote lake and has much woodland and ample room for an enormous vegetable garden (which my mom affectionately called my dad’s “mistress”). Each year my parents can and freeze produce from their bountiful harvest, not to mention go mushroom “hunting,” tap maple trees and pick wild blueberries in northern state forests. So when they have company over, my parents are sure to share some of this homemade goodness with their guests. I knew it would be no different when I brought Adam home for the first time.
I can still picture it clearly. It was November 2008. Adam and I had been dating about six weeks. As we sat down for lunch that Saturday, there was a hearty meal before us of beef vegetable soup. The homemade soup had a tomato base with garden vegetables, beef from the local farmer and my dad’s homemade noodles. However, that day there was also something else in the soup. My mom noticed it right after the meal prayer.
“Jim, what are these little black specks?” she asked.
My dad leaned in to look at his bowl and shrugged. “It’s just pieces from the beef,” he said.
“Are you sure?” my mom replied. “I don’t have my glasses on, so I can’t tell.”
“Yep,” he said as he put another spoonful in his mouth. Adam had dug in by this point, too.
I peered down to look at my bowl and saw the specks. They seemed too uniform to be part of the meat to me. So I pulled the spoon up to my face and squinted my eyes. Oh my gosh! Legs. LEGS!! The little black specks were BUGS!
I could feel my heart constrict as I wrestled with what to do. Should I tell everyone, thus saving us from eating the tainted soup, but also risking my parents’ embarrassment? Or should I just sit there quietly, pretending that everything was fine while carefully pushing the soup around in my bowl? I mean, Adam was a Marine, I figured he’d probably eaten things worse than bugs, right?
My mom, still not convinced, got up to retrieve her glasses.
“It’s fine,” my dad said. “It tastes great!”
“Yeah, it’s great!” Adam chimed in.
I knew it was only a matter of time before the truth was known, so I let the words burst from my mouth. “It’s bugs!!” I said.
“No, it’s not,” said my dad, who was continuing to enjoy his soup.
By this time my mom was back at the table with her glasses perched on her nose. “I knew it! It IS bugs!” she said. “Everyone drop your spoons.”
Adam, who truly didn’t care about the bugs or was too eager to make a good impression, continued to eat it.
“Adam DROP it!” my mom repeated. CLANG!!! went his spoon.
As my parents frantically hurried around the kitchen looking for the source of the little critters, I could not stop laughing. Pretty soon Adam and my dad were laughing, too. My mom, however, was mortified.
“Check the noodles!” she told my dad.
My dad emptied the bag onto a plate and sure enough, there were the bugs! (When Adam tells this story he likes to say there were centipedes, moths, heck an entire ecosystem in that bag. But I’d like to set the record straight here and now that that’s NOT true.) It turns out my dad had two bags of his homemade noodles in the pantry — one he made recently, and the other … not so fresh. He wanted to use up the old noodles first, except that they had developed cereal bugs. Lesson learned.
Thankfully this experience, which has etched its way into Storey family folklore, has not soured Adam’s appetite for soup. In fact, when I made him the recipe below (don’t worry, it’s different than the bug soup!), he declared it his new favorite!
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Taco Soup (Download a printable PDF copy of Kara’s Taco Soup here.)
(This recipe is a variation of one given to me by a dear college friend.)
1 lb. ground beef
2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can tomatoes with diced green chilis
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 cups frozen or canned corn
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 pkg. ranch salad dressing mix
2 cups water
Brown the ground beef and onions. Add all other ingredients to the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Garnish with crushed tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.